What is a logline, and why do I need one?

I’m still learning the terminology used in the publishing business. The publishing business is changing every day, so I’ll always be playing catch up.

Sell Your Story in a Single Sentence

A library book caught my attention last week, so I checked it out. Sell Your Story in a Single Sentence, by Lane Shefter Bishop turned out to be one of the most helpful writing books I’ve read. Perhaps I feel that way because it was timely. It would have been even more beneficial if I could have read it a decade ago before I started writing my southern historical novel manuscript with the working title, The Spanish Coin. (Since Ms. Bishop published the book in 2016, that would have been impossible — but you get my point.)

Sell Your Story in a Single Sentence, by Lane Shefter Bishop
Sell Your Story in a Single  Sentence, by Lane Shefter   Bishop                                                                                                                         

Speaking of getting to the point . . .

Sell Your Story in a Single Sentence is an excellent “how to” book about the process of writing a logline. A logline is a single sentence that identifies a story’s protagonist, what the protagonist wants, and what’s at stake. Sounds easy?  Actually, it’s quite a process that involves many revisions and lots of rewriting.

When to write your logline

If I had known to create a logline before writing my novel’s manuscript, it would have helped me focus. Writing the logline after the fact, though, will help me evaluate my 97,000-word manuscript. I’ll have to make the best of having the cart before the horse. Next time I write a book, I’ll know to start with the logline.

Why do I need a logline?

I need a logline so I can precisely answer the question, “What’s your book about?” I will also need it to open my query letters to prospective literary agents or publishers. In that respect, the logline is like the “hook” or first line of a novel. If well written, it grabs the agent’s attention and makes him want to hear more. Ultimately, it makes a literary agent want to read my manuscript — or not read it.

My logline for The Spanish Coin

The following sentence is my logline in progress for The Spanish Coin:

When a widow is accused of her husband’s murder in the Carolina backcountry in 1771, she will stop at nothing to save herself and her unborn child.

Until my next blog post . . .

I hope you have a good book to read. If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time.

Janet

P.S. Does my logline make you want to read The Spanish Coin? I would love to have your comments!

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